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Belief vs Knowledge (Absolutes?) [Split from 'Gay marriage']

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  • Jagged
    Jagged
    A confused voice within
    Jagged
    A confused voice within
    • Mar 2004
    • 760

    Belief vs Knowledge (Absolutes?) [Split from 'Gay marriage']

    Originally posted by J-Sun View Post
    The obvious counter to that is to make the bible more subjective... and as you see, the problem with that is to then have no absolutes, [...]
    Ehr... ahem... hate to bring this up, since I find everything else you say very sympathetic, but.... is it really a problem to have no absolutes? Viewed through the lenses of my bias, social problems only arise when people think that they do indeed have found an absolute.
    "If the environment were a bank, we would already have saved it." -Graffitti.
  • Kyrinn S. Eis
    Kyrinn S. Eis
    Psychwar Vet
    Kyrinn S. Eis
    Psychwar Vet
    • Aug 2007
    • 2585

    #2
    Given that, and I am sympathetic even in that regard, what is the point of inquiry? At best, then, it is to find resonance or disonance in others' words?

    ---
    Dead Can Dance: Engima of the Absolute-

    Saloman hung down her head, laid bare her heart
    For the world to see, she craved for intimacy
    Through darkened doors her aspect veiled with indecision
    Gazed out to sea, she craved lucidity

    Cast adrift from past relationships in her life
    Hoisted up the ideal, this was her saving grace
    Seas of rage that once assailed her concern for the truth
    Had passed her by and left her high and dry
    In her saviours arms...(x4)

    Across the sea lies the fountain of renewal
    Where you will see the whole cause of your lonliness
    Can be measured in dreams that transcend all these lies
    And I wish and I pray that there may come a day
    For a saviours arms...(x4)
    Ani Maamin B'emunah Sh'leimah B'viyat Hamashiach. V'af al pi sheyitmahmehah im kol zeh achake lo b'chol yom sheyavo.

    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Phillip K. Dick

    Comment

    • Groakes
      Groakes
      badseed
      Groakes
      badseed
      • Jan 2005
      • 2512

      #3
      Originally posted by Jagged View Post
      Originally posted by J-Sun View Post
      The obvious counter to that is to make the bible more subjective... and as you see, the problem with that is to then have no absolutes, [...]
      Ehr... ahem... hate to bring this up, since I find everything else you say very sympathetic, but.... is it really a problem to have no absolutes? Viewed through the lenses of my bias, social problems only arise when people think that they do indeed have found an absolute.
      The single most powerful piece of thoughtful television I have ever witnessed took place in Jacob Bronowski's magnificent documentary series "The Ascent of Man". In this piece he stands in the ash pond at Auschwitz and declares that this is the end result in the dogmatic belief in an absolute truth. "We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push button order and the human act. We have to touch people."
      Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
      Bakunin

      Comment

      • Nathaniel
        Nathaniel
        Champion of the Balance
        Nathaniel
        Champion of the Balance
        • Nov 2006
        • 1989

        #4
        Originally posted by Jagged View Post
        ...Kyrinn's and others' answers here don't help me all that much -- mainly because Kyrinn resembles myself very much in saying, "I'll do what I see to be the best for the world and myself, and if some power is confronting me with that after my death, I'll just have to face the music."....
        This highlights a problem faced by hardcore Atheists, most of us are argumentitive sods who love being right, yet logicaly we must admit that if we are right then we will never have the satisfaction of knowing it. If we are wrong, and ther IS an afterlife then we will certainly be told... (The more cowardly amoungst us try to hedge our bets by being really good all the time just in case)

        On a more serious note, it is worth noting that there is a diference between believing in absolute truth and our ability to access it (there are tons of epistimological sceptics who still think that 1+1=2 is true)
        Nathaniel
        Champion of the Balance
        Last edited by Nathaniel; 11-26-2008, 02:44 PM.

        Comment

        • David Mosley
          David Mosley
          Eternal Administrator
          David Mosley
          Eternal Administrator
          • Jul 2004
          • 11823

          #5
          Originally posted by Groakes View Post
          The single most powerful piece of thoughtful television I have ever witnessed took place in Jacob Bronowski's magnificent documentary series "The Ascent of Man". In this piece he stands in the ash pond at Auschwitz and declares that this is the end result in the dogmatic belief in an absolute truth. "We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push button order and the human act. We have to touch people."
          Without wishing to take anything away from that piece Bronowski himself demonstrates the fallibility of 'human knowledge' when he says into the ash pool "were flushed the ashes of some 4m people", which may have been the accepted figure at the time TAoM was filmed but which nowadays has been officially revised to 1.1m.

          I wonder what his reaction would have been if someone had told him in 1973 that he was wrong.

          One other thing, I think there's more than just a semantic difference between Groakes' "absolute truth" and Bronowski's "absolute knowledge" so I'm uneasy at the attempt to conflate them. Surely the point of the former is that it may exist, whereas the latter is certainly limited by the constraints of human understanding, which I think was Bronowski's point.

          Originally posted by Nathaniel View Post
          This highlights a problem faced by hardcore Atheists, most of us are argumentitive sods who love being right...
          As I think I've remarked before, atheists can be just as evangelical as theists when it comes to propagating their belief system. The fact that the irony apparently escape them is... er, ironic.

          Originally posted by Nathaniel View Post
          (The more cowardly amoungst us try to hedge our bets by being really good all the time just in case)
          I'm sorry to tell you Nat that just "being really good all the time" isn't going to wash if you're wrong.
          David Mosley
          Eternal Administrator
          Last edited by David Mosley; 11-26-2008, 04:54 PM.
          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

          Comment

          • Groakes
            Groakes
            badseed
            Groakes
            badseed
            • Jan 2005
            • 2512

            #6
            Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
            I wonder what his reaction would have been if someone had told him in 1973 that he was wrong.
            I think he would have said something along the lines of "See, I told you so...". and it still wouldn't have lessened the impact and gravitas of that particular piece of television history.

            Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
            One other thing, I think there's more than just a semantic difference between Groakes' "absolute truth" and Bronowski's "absolute knowledge" so I'm uneasy at the attempt to conflate them. Surely the point of the former is that it may exist, whereas the latter is certainly limited by the constraints of human understanding, which I think was Bronowski's point.
            Fair point and well taken. I guess what I was trying to stress was the inflexibility of dogmatic belief. The danger lies, as you have pointed out Dave, in equating knowledge as truth.

            Which I guess leads to the question which our philosophical brethren might like to assist us with - Can You Know truth? And is truth, by definition, an absolute?
            Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
            Bakunin

            Comment

            • Groakes
              Groakes
              badseed
              Groakes
              badseed
              • Jan 2005
              • 2512

              #7
              Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
              Originally posted by Nathaniel View Post
              (The more cowardly amoungst us try to hedge our bets by being really good all the time just in case)
              I'm sorry to tell you Nat that just "being really good all the time" isn't going to wash if you're wrong.
              Sorry if this OT but - what is the position of all those who died without knowledge of Christ (let alone acceptance) who lived a "good" and "wholesome" life.

              Surely the Beatitudes provide that so long as you you're a fairly decent person, or as Matthew would put it, poor in spirit, have mourned, hunger and thirst after righteousness, been persecuted for seeking righteousness, are meek, merciful, pure of heart and/or a peacemaker then you stand a better than even chance of reaching the Kingdom of Heaven...
              Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
              Bakunin

              Comment

              • voilodian ghagnasdiak
                voilodian ghagnasdiak
                Warrior On The Edge
                voilodian ghagnasdiak
                Warrior On The Edge
                • Jun 2006
                • 2591

                #8
                Is it "better to rule in hell than serve in heaven"?
                Everyone has to decide on options that lie between freedom of choice and the never ending conundrum of fabricated rules.
                When standing at the crossroads...no one can make the choice but you.

                Comment

                • Nathaniel
                  Nathaniel
                  Champion of the Balance
                  Nathaniel
                  Champion of the Balance
                  • Nov 2006
                  • 1989

                  #9
                  Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                  I'm sorry to tell you Nat that just "being really good all the time" isn't going to wash if you're wrong.
                  Depends on who is right, some religions think that good works are enough for entrance to the good afterlife. Also, as gramps was a very devout Catholic, I am covered by his plenery indulgence.

                  Comment

                  • Nathaniel
                    Nathaniel
                    Champion of the Balance
                    Nathaniel
                    Champion of the Balance
                    • Nov 2006
                    • 1989

                    #10
                    [QUOTE=Groakes;147550]
                    Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                    [Sorry if this OT but - what is the position of all those who died without knowledge of Christ (let alone acceptance) who lived a "good" and "wholesome" life.

                    Surely the Beatitudes provide that so long as you you're a fairly decent person, or as Matthew would put it, poor in spirit, have mourned, hunger and thirst after righteousness, been persecuted for seeking righteousness, are meek, merciful, pure of heart and/or a peacemaker then you stand a better than even chance of reaching the Kingdom of Heaven...
                    I believe the Catholic Aquinus position on this is a "baptism of disire" or something. Idea being that if you had heard Christs mesege, you would have accepted it, then it counts.

                    Comment

                    • UncleDes
                      UncleDes
                      Got Moves like Jagged
                      UncleDes
                      Got Moves like Jagged
                      • Dec 2006
                      • 3682

                      #11
                      Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                      Without wishing to take anything away from that piece Bronowski himself demonstrates the fallibility of 'human knowledge' when he says into the ash pool "were flushed the ashes of some 4m people", which may have been the accepted figure at the time TAoM was filmed but which nowadays has been officially revised to 1.1m.

                      I wonder what his reaction would have been if someone had told him in 1973 that he was wrong.
                      Probably the same as mine: "that's still 1,100,000 human beings too many".

                      Des
                      UncleDes
                      Got Moves like Jagged
                      Last edited by UncleDes; 11-26-2008, 06:20 PM. Reason: put wrong number in
                      Spacerockmanifesto on Facebook

                      Hawkwind tabs

                      Comment

                      • David Mosley
                        David Mosley
                        Eternal Administrator
                        David Mosley
                        Eternal Administrator
                        • Jul 2004
                        • 11823

                        #12
                        Originally posted by Groakes View Post
                        Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                        Originally posted by Nathaniel View Post
                        (The more cowardly amoungst us try to hedge our bets by being really good all the time just in case)
                        I'm sorry to tell you Nat that just "being really good all the time" isn't going to wash if you're wrong.
                        Sorry if this OT but - what is the position of all those who died without knowledge of Christ (let alone acceptance) who lived a "good" and "wholesome" life.
                        We will be going OT if I give an answer to this, but nonetheless...

                        The answer I was always given to the question what happens to those who never heard the Gospel before they died is God knows what decision they would have made if they *had* heard it. Which I think probably comes down to the 'predestination vs free will' debate that we generally try to avoid here, rather like Dollis Hill in Mornington Crescent. (But the argument generally goes something like there are those who are predestined to believe and there are those who aren't.)

                        Originally posted by Groakes View Post
                        Surely the Beatitudes provide that so long as you you're a fairly decent person, or as Matthew would put it, poor in spirit, have mourned, hunger and thirst after righteousness, been persecuted for seeking righteousness, are meek, merciful, pure of heart and/or a peacemaker then you stand a better than even chance of reaching the Kingdom of Heaven...
                        "Jesus answered, 'I am the Way and the Truth and the Light. No-one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6)

                        "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
                        I'm not discounting the Beatitudes but there is some 'difference of opinion' on whether they refer to the physical condition (qv. Luke) or the spiritual (qv. Matthew). However, whichever it is, the Bible is clear that merely leading a 'good life' is insufficient in and of itself.

                        "Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?" "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
                        "Which ones?" the man inquired.
                        Jesus replied, " 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,' and 'love your neighbor as yourself.'"
                        "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
                        Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
                        When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
                        Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
                        When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
                        Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."(Matthew 19:16-26)
                        It's necessary to point out that 'the commandments' - or the Law - were given by God to the Israelites as a 'get out of jail' card for their sinfulness, the idea being that anyone who could live their life exactly according to the Law would be saved. But Jesus points out that those who have anger in their hearts towards their brother commit murder and those who look on a woman with lust in their hearts commit adultery. The point being that even if you could obey the letter of the Law it is impossible to obey the spirit of the Law - not unless you weren't human (in which case you wouldn't need it). In effect the Law is an impossible challenge - an exam where the pass mark is 101% - and which by its very nature is designed to throw into sharp relief the severity of the consequences of Sin and thus the specialness/uniqueness/greatness of Christ's sacrifice and gift to us.
                        _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                        _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                        _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                        _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                        Comment

                        • johneffay
                          johneffay
                          Born Again Nihilist
                          johneffay
                          Born Again Nihilist
                          • Sep 2005
                          • 3394

                          #13
                          Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                          As I think I've remarked before, atheists can be just as evangelical as theists when it comes to propagating their belief system. The fact that the irony apparently escape them is... er, ironic.
                          Atheism is not a belief system. The refusal to believe one thing does not entail the belief in something else. Do you 'know' or 'believe' that the claim that many Gods reside on Mount Olympus, and the the most senior of them took the form of a swan in order to seduce Leda is false?

                          Comment

                          • David Mosley
                            David Mosley
                            Eternal Administrator
                            David Mosley
                            Eternal Administrator
                            • Jul 2004
                            • 11823

                            #14
                            Originally posted by johneffay View Post
                            Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                            As I think I've remarked before, atheists can be just as evangelical as theists when it comes to propagating their belief system. The fact that the irony apparently escape them is... er, ironic.
                            Atheism is not a belief system. The refusal to believe one thing does not entail the belief in something else.
                            "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in anything." - GK Chesterton

                            We've probably had this discussion before, and I understand you're making a distinction between belief and knowledge (see below) in that you don't believe in God because [you think] you know He doesn't exist. I still maintain, however, that you believe He doesn't exist. I think you can have belief without knowledge - that is you can believe something to be so without knowing it is - but you can't have knowledge without belief; that is if you know the Earth orbits the Sun then you must believe it.

                            Originally posted by johneffay View Post
                            Do you 'know' or 'believe' that the claim that many Gods reside on Mount Olympus, and the the most senior of them took the form of a swan in order to seduce Leda is false?
                            Okay, I'm probably setting myself up for a fall here, but... I would say I believe the Greek pantheon is false; I'm not sure I can say I know 100% for certain it's false, although it probably is on the balance of probability.
                            _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                            _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                            _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                            _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

                            Comment

                            • johneffay
                              johneffay
                              Born Again Nihilist
                              johneffay
                              Born Again Nihilist
                              • Sep 2005
                              • 3394

                              #15
                              Originally posted by David Mosley View Post
                              Okay, I'm probably setting myself up for a fall here, but... I would say I believe the Greek pantheon is false; I'm not sure I can say I know 100% for certain it's false, although it probably is on the balance of probability.
                              Which would make you a global sceptic, i.e. we can never truly know anything about the world; all we can hold are stronger and stronger beliefs about things. On that basis, we're all agnostics.

                              I take your point that knowledge entails belief. What I don't agree with is that denial of a belief system necessarily instantiates an opposed belief system along with all that entails. Our refusal to entertain the idea that we are the playthings of the Gods of Olympus does not impact upon our worldview in such a manner that it constitutes a 'belief system' (well mine doesn't, and I'm guessing yours doesn't either). Why presume that atheism in general is any different in that respect?

                              As I've said before, I agree with the claim about some atheists evangelizing. I also agree that there are atheist belief systems (humanism, for example). What I do not agree with is that atheism per se is a belief system in any meaningful sense of the term.

                              If you want to pursue this, perhaps whoever is running this joint should split the thread

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